The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City will be showcasing a major retrospective of Vogue fashion photographer Irving Penn. Irving Penn: Centennial, pays tribute to the artist, who was born in 1917. He spent nearly 70 years behind the camera. It will be the most comprehensive exhibition of the American photographer’s extensive and innovative work.

Penn spent six decades shooting for Vogue Magazine

Every period of Penn’s prolific career will be on view and include 187 photographs and 50 prints. Although known first and foremost as a fashion photographer, he was also a portraitist and a still life virtuoso as well as a meticulous, innovative printmaker.

The exhibition will explore the geography of his work and the various stages of his development as a photographer. Early in his career, he captured street signs from New York, Mexico, and the American South.

Supermodels to cultural icons

In the fashion genre, there are a plethora of 1940s photographs of the first supermodel, Lisa Fonssagrives, who later became his wife. They were married until her death in 1992. Also included are portraits of indigenous people from Peru, Morocco, and New Guinea; to cultural figures from Truman Capote and Picasso to Ingmar Bergman and Alvin Ailey. His infamous still life’s and nudes round out this extraordinary retrospective.

Penn worked out of a traveling tent

Penn preferred to work in a studio or a traveling tent as opposed to onsite chaotic fashion shows.

His preferred backdrop was an old theater curtain he found in Paris that traveled with him for over 60 years. His minimal backgrounds and diffused lighting were innovative and influential. His traveling curtain is also on display at this exhibit.

We caught up with co-curator of the exhibition, Jeff Rosenheim and asked how 20th century photography differs from today’s social media image makers.

“This show will help people understand the history of photography, and that it is an object making medium, not just an image making medium. We hope the take away will highlight the awesome beauty and power of one of the greatest picture makers of the 20th century.” Irving Penn died in 2009 at the age of 92.

Irving Penn: Centennial, in collaboration with the Irving Penn Foundation, the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, will open at The Met Fifth Avenue on April 24th, and will run through July 30th, 2017.